Israel’s stake in Lebanon and Syria

Apparently some of Israel’s friends and enemies in the West are concerned that Israel might become involved in the conflicts in Syria and Lebanon  The situation in Lebanon has not yet become an open war like the civil war of the 1980’s, but it has become another part of the overall Muslim Shia-Sunni split.  One must take note of the fact that Shia Iran has been pushing to take more control in Lebanon thru its proxy Hizbollah, and it has of course been supporting Pres. Assad in his war against his opponents in Syria.  One of Iran’s war aims is to extend their control to the Golan Heights and develop a military platform there from which to mount a significant attack on Israel.  So before anyone condemns Israel for taking action in this theater of war, they should acknowledge that it is Iran that is the aggressor and Israel might be forced to take defensive action.

This situation has become more dangerous with the virtual defection of the PM of Lebanon Sa’ad Hariri to Saudi Arabia, fearing assassination by Iran, as his father was assassinated by the Syrians.  This move is interpreted as the Saudi Arabian future King Mohammed bin Salman flexing his muscles and preparing the security situation for his ascension and his intention of taking on the Iranians.  As the leader of the Sunni camp Saudi Arabia has been active in counter-attacking the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen and is now turning his attention to the deteriorating situation vis-a-vis Lebanon and Syria.  He has also arrested dozens of Saudi leaders in an attempt to solidify his support.

But, the Saudi military is not really capable of facing off against the Iranians, Hizbollah and the Syrian Army.  They will need strong allies committed to their side, and the only ones that are available are the US, Israel and possibly the Kurds.  Were Israel to make a joint coalition with the Saudis and other Sunni States (Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE) against Shia Iran, then it must expect a significant reward.  This might be in the form of Arab recognition of Israel as a legitimate sovereign State in their midst.  However, this is projecting to a point we haven’t yet reached.  But the signs are there that this is the way things are going.  Iran is not going to back down and neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia can continue to exist and allow this situation to fester.




Bolshevik Revolution Centenary

Of all the centenaries that occur in 2017, that commemorating the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917 is perhaps the most significant historically.  Actually the so-called October Revolution occurred in October according to the Czarist calendar, but was on Nov 7 according to the western calendar.

Many people are not aware that the insurrection that removed the Czar took place initially in February, 1917, and resulted in the formation of a provisional government in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) led by Alexander Kerensky, a moderate socialist.  But, the leaders of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRP) of Russia, namely the Bolsheviks of Vladimir Lenin, were not satisfied with this outcome and sought to overthrow Kerensky’s Government, that they succeeded in doing in the October Revolution.

“Bolshevik” means majority in Russian, and the split between the Bosheviks and the Mensheviks (minority) goes back to the first international congress of the SRP that took  place in 1903 when the Jewish Bund Party that was affiliated with the SRP were persuaded by Lenin to side with his interpretation that the SRP must be a truly revolutionary party, while the minority who voted against (the Mensheviks) were in favor of more constitutional and opportunistic means (such as forming coalitions with other socialist parties).  At the time this seemed like a reasonable difference, but no-one could envisage that it would lead to the death of all those who opposed the Bolsheviks.  This included the Mensheviks  and the Bund who later had separated from the SRP, who were all murdered by Stalin.

Lenin (born Ulyanov) owed a lot to Stalin (born Djugashvilli), who had robbed banks for  the SRP.   He was also one of the few non-Russians in the leadership of the Party, so Lenin promoted him and put him in charge of the nationality policy of the Party.  After the Bolsheviks took power in the coup of October, 1917, they instituted the “terror” that engulfed millions of people.  Stalin was so ruthless in carrying this out that he was once again promoted by Lenin to be editor of the Party newspaper.  But, then in 1922 and 1923 Lenin suffered two strokes that left him paralyzed, and when he died in 1924 Stalin took over control of the Soviet Government as General Secretary of the Communist Party.

The rest, as they say, is history.  It took another 70 years until Communism in Russia was overthrown.  Robert Conquest, a brilliant historian of the USSR, calculated from later census statistics, from the discrepancy between men and women, that Stalin had murdered ca. 80 million (!!) people during his various reigns of terror over 70 years.  Every evening he was given a list of those hundreds to be executed by a bullet to the back of the neck in the cellars of the Lyubyanka prison, and he approved them.  We should not forget how Stalinism devolved into a ruthless murderous dictatorship, like that of  North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, because people gave up their liberty to a Party.

Saudi Arabia Flexes its Muscles

The sudden resignation by PM Sa’ad Hariri of Lebanon, which he blamed on Iranian interference in Lebanese politics and which he announced in Saudi Arabia, came as a shock.  Lebanon had gone for months without a leader and now a year after his appointment, which resulted from a careful balancing of Sunni and Shia interests, he has gone.  Further, he gave as the reason for the abruptness of his decision that there had been an assassination attempt planned against him by Iran.  We should note that his father, former PM Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005 by a massive explosion that killed 22 people, that was blamed on Syria, a proxy of Iran.

Now Hizbollah, another proxy of Iran, practically controls Lebanon, and nothing can be done there without their approval or that of Iran.  In the Shia-Sunni clash, Saudi Arabia is considered the leader of the Sunnis, so it was logical that Hariri would escape to there to save his life and announce his resignation.  But why now?

King Salman of Saudi Arabia is old and has announced that he is going to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammed.  Yesterday it was announced that some 40 princes and leaders of Saudi society have been arrested in a huge anti-corruption drive.  This is considered by commentators as Mohammed bin Salman preparing the way for his ascension and removing those he considers are not his allies.

Saudi Arabia is a big influential country, with massive oil reserves, but is not considered to be militarily significant.  As such it needs strong allies in its clash with the leader of the Shia cause, Iran.  It has the US, but past acts by US administrations, especially that of Pres. Obama, have caused the Saudis to lose faith in US support.  That is why they have been holding secret talks with Israel.

Maybe when the new vigorous King of Saudi Arabia ascends the throne he will change their positions completely and make an open relationship with Israel.  But, that may be wishful thinking.  Nevertheless it is good that the Saudis are standing up to the Iranians and this makes a common cause between the so-called moderate Sunnis and Israel.

Dizziness and Dehydration

Last week I had an unfortunate incident.  Because I have the digestive condition known as diverticulosis (irritable bowl syndrome), I have to be careful what I eat and how much I eat.  Too much rich food causes me to feel nauseous and sometimes to throw up.  This is what happened to me unexpectedly, and because I have another condition (hypo-pituitarism) I have to give myself an injection of steroid (cortisone) when I do throw up.  So far nothing out of the ordinary.  But, this time I was also struck by a terrible bout of dizziness.  I have had bouts of dizziness before, once caused by too much looking at the computer monitor (so I switched to LCD).  Although it was bad it passed in about 3 days.

But, this time it was terrible, I could not even lie down, it seemed to make it worse.   I was so distraught with this situation that I called my daughter and we went to the doctor. She said I was probably dehydrated from throwing up and gave me a referral to the emergency room at the hospital (if you don’t get the referral from the doctor you have to pay yourself).  So we went to Soroka Hospital in Beer-Sheva that has the reputation of being an excellent hospital.   Since it is a teaching hospital I was attended by a young trainee doctor who happened to be an Arab.  He was very meticulous and took a detailed medical history, which was good because of my complications.

He too decided that I was dehydrated and gave me a saline infusion (drip) with a digestive relaxant.  After about an hour of this the effect of dizziness began to wear off.  Although we spent 6.5 hrs in the emergency room, not surprising since my problem was not life threatening and he had me also do two CT scans, nevertheless, after the infusion I was feeling much better and the dizziness dissipated and he released me.  So I learnt a lesson of which I was not aware, dehydration can lead to terrible dizziness.  Take care and when necessary drink a lot.

Switched on

Because my son-in-law Jeff is religious, and did such an excellent job helping to prepare our new house in Beer-Sheva, I believe everything he tells me.  When he told me that the red switch with a light inside, that was outside the bathroom in our bedroom, was the power for the water heater I naturally believed him.  There was also a similar switch in the corridor, but this one had a fancy timer attached to it, and he did not know what that was for.  So when the skies started to be cloudy and the temperature started to fall and the solar heater would not work so well, I turned on the switch for the water heater when I got up early (say 6 am) and then turned it off an hour later.  Fortunately the water was always hot.  But, I was warned not to leave it on for too long, say 2 hrs max, since it could blow the boiler.

I had an electrician here doing some work for me, and I asked him what did he think the switch in the corridor with the timer was for, and he said that’s for the hot water heater.  So I asked him what was the other switch outside the bathroom inside our bedroom and he said that was for the bathroom heater (which he then set up).  So I felt foolish, here I was switching that switch on and off on the assumption that it was heating the water and actually it was doing nothing,

So now I decided to test the actual water heater switch. I turned it on and set the timer to the correct time, and set it to turn on for an hour 6-7 am.  The light was on in the switch but also a small light lit up on the side.  I showed the timer to our metapelet and she assured me that it was set up correctly.  But, just in case I took a photo of the set-up and sent it to Jeff, who I always believe.   Two hours later he called me back and said “do you know you’ve turned the water heater on,” I replied yes, but its on the timer.  “No” he said “its on all the time when the little light on the side is on.”  Oh I said, that means its been on for 2 hours.  He said you might want to turn it off now.  He explained that there was a switch in the timer (that I had seen but had no idea what it was for) that allowed you to turn it on all the time or off all the time, or if you set it to the tiny clock shown in the middle of the switch, that actuated the timer.

The first thing I did was turn the whole thing off.  Then I let the water run and it was scalding hot, obviously too hot.  I let it run to make sure that if it heated again the boiler would not burst.  Near catastrophe!  Then the next day when it had cooled down I reset the clock and put the little switch onto the timer setting and then turned it on.  I ran it thru 24 hrs by hand to check that it turned on and off (as indicated by the little light on the side) when it reached 6 and 7 am, and then satisfied, I set it to run continuously.

Now every morning we have hot water without the sunshine because the water is heated for one hour.  The moral of this story is don’t believe everything a religious person tells you.

Terrorism in America

Any country that allows the entry of large numbers of Muslims is going to have acts of Radical Islamic Terrorism (RIT) that will kill large numbers of its civilians.  That is a fact, there is no escaping it.  A certain small proportion of them, from Somalia, from Syria, from Uzbekistan and from wherever, will become radicalized and will act.  Whether from revenge for Western power, from personal discontent, or from religious principles, such as jihad, there will be a mass casualty attack, period.

The fact that it just happened in NYC is no surprise, it will happen elsewhere too.  Until the US and the rest of Europe wizens up and stops the free entry of Muslims this will continue.  In that respect I fully support Pres. Trump, positive vetting must be done, and the easiest way to avoid casualties is to stop the entry of all young Muslim men, period.  I say to all those good liberals who want to help the poor, suffering Muslims, do you want your child, husband, wife, parents to be murdered by one of them?  It’s going to happen.  In the latest incident carried out by an Uzbeki who had been in the US for 9 years, only 8 people were killed and 6 of them were foreigners, but 11 were injured.

To those who say this was a “lone wolf” attack, that he was not part of a larger plot or organization, I say nonsense.  He was radicalized by a portion of the anti-Western RIT movement, he was given instructions by Al Qaeda or IS to carry out this attack.  Using a truck or car to ram people is not a new tactic, it has been used in Jerusalem, Nice, Paris, Berlin and London.  Now NYC has its attack, who will be next.

Also, there is far too little collection of personal data from these Muslim immigrants.  Their right to privacy stops when they enter the US and begin to watch RIT sites on the internet (why are they allowed anyway?) and begin to plan their attack.  Thousands are doing it now.  In the UK they have stated that they are actively watching 8,000 potential Muslim terrorists, and there are more.  In the US they have hardly scratched the surface, that is why they had no clue about this individual.  I hope that eventually, when the cost gets higher and more civilians are killed, that a more restrictive approach will be used to prevent potential RITs from entering the US and other countries.

The Battle of Beer-Sheva Centenary

This year 2017 is the centenary of the Battle of Beer-Sheva that took place on Oct 31, 1917.   That historic battle was a turning point in WWI and for the Middle East as a whole.

The Battle of Beer-Sheva came about as a result of strategic mistakes on both sides of the conflict.   The British were not making any gains on the Western front in trench warfare against the Germans and when Turkey joined with Germany, Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill decided to open an Eastern Front by making a quick and poorly planned attack against Turkey at the Dardanelles leading to Istanbul.  Five British Navy ships were sent, but they were fired upon as they approached the narrow straits and retreated.  This led to the decision to send ground troops into the Dardanelles. But the delay allowed Turkish General Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk) to bring in a defensive force, that pinned the landing troops down and led to the defeat at Gallipoli in which many Australian troops (ca. 8,000) were killed.

Meanwhile the triumvirate of young Turks who had effectively taken over the Turkish government, with German advice and support, sent their main army to Gaza in an attempt to take the Suez Canal from the British who controlled Egypt.  This led to the British sending an Egyptian Expeditionary Force to  block this attempt.   Under Gen. Maxwell the British counter-attacked Gaza but were defeated twice at great cost by the Turks.  Maxwell was then replaced by Gen Allenby, who tried to devise an alternative approach.

Aaron Aaronsohn, a Jewish Palestinian agronomist, who ran the pro-British spy ring known as Nili, and who had studied the topography of the Sinai desert, advised Allenby to instead attack Beer-Sheva.  This was a dangerous  maneuver, but with knowledge of the water sources it was feasible.  A British intelligence officer Richard Meinertzhagen (of German origin) in a ruse dropped a haversack containing maps near the Turkish front lines that convinced them that the British would attack Gaza again.  Meanwhile a large British force crossed the desert in strict secrecy.   They attacked on Oct. 31 and the Australian Light Horse regiment with a New Zealand contingent, part of the ANZAC corps, galloped over the plain before the Turkish lines and captured the wells and defeated the Turks.  This was considered a recompense for the defeat at Gallipoli.

Today was the centenary of that battle and there were several celebrations in Beer-Sheva.  We walked about 5 mins from where we now live to see the parade of the Australian Light Horse soldiers, who then went on to partially re-enact the famous horse charge, one of the last in history.   There was a ceremony at the British Military Cemetery where many Australian soldiers are buried, at which PM Netanyahu spoke and the Australian PM attended.  They also opened a museum commemorating the event. There was a ceremony at the memorial to the Turkish soldiers who died fighting here and an event for the New Zealanders.

Because their army was out-flanked at Beer-Sheva, the Turks were forced to withdraw from Gaza, which allowed Allenby to advance and capture Jerusalem by Christmas 1917, the first major success for the Allies in WWI.  As a result of the victory at Beer-Sheva Palestine fell to the British and this led to the British Mandate for Palestine and ultimately the establishment of the State of Israel.  The Turkish Empire collapsed and resulted in the formation of the Turkish Republic under Kemal Ataturk and six Arab countries (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Arabia and Kuwait) and one small Jewish State – Israel.